The KTM 950 Adventure has plastic gas tanks. On top of the plastic gas tanks the factory applied the stickers that create the look. On top of the stickers they then used a clear coat of sorts to seal and better protect the stickers.
That’s fine until you bring the bike into California. We have a special kind of gas here with ethanol.
Apparently (I’m not a scientist) the molecules for Ethanol are smaller and the plastic gas tanks don’t do a great job keeping it inside the tank where it should be. That means a small amount of gas (air) seeps through the plastic and then gets trapped under the aforementioned stickers. Then you end up with a gas tank that looks like this.
You can spend hours trying to combine them, sucking the air out through little holes but a week later they’ll be back. The rest of the bike will look fine, this is just in the tank area and just under the stickers.
That’s why I decided early on that I was going to replace the stock with something different.
I found a guy in the UK that had a pattern and had a few patterns (Crispy Designs). That was close but I wanted it to be a little different than the kit he had.
I contacted him and he was very open to helping me create what I wanted.
- I wanted a orange base with a topographical map of sorts as the background.
- I wanted my website to be listed on the side along with a subdued Tuareg Man
After a few iterations, this is what he came up with…
He shipped them out and they arrived from the UK in a hard cardboard tube, ready to go!
The next challenge was putting them on.
I asked in a few forums and groups what I should do with the old stickers and prep the bike for the new ones. Most people said to pull off the tank stickers and leave the rest. One person, just one, said to remove all the stickers on the entire bodywork and then sand down the clear coat to make it all one flat surface.
I decided to go with the popular vote and just remove the tank decals. Actually this is where I brought in some expert help. My friend Ron at East Bay Auto Spa took on the project for me – while I sat there and watched 🙂
Ron used ultra sharp razor blades, steam and a heat gun to get what he wanted off the bike.
He then cleaned the surfaces and we started applying the new decals. They don’t fit like you might hope they do. Each piece needed to be coerced into place and for some there was only a compromise at best. That said, it came out pretty cool looking.
Looking back, the one guy who said to take all the old ones off was correct. In the right light you can see the outlines of the old stickers. It’s something I can live with but would definitely do different if i did it again.
Of corse, the big question I have is will it bubble up again?
Ron thought that the new material might actually breathe like his clear bra stuff does.
Crispy says that if it does he’ll print new ones for me to replace it with.
My thought is that if it does I’ll replace them but before I do I’ll take the stickers to somewhere that can perforate them with thousands of small holes first.
But for now we’ll just have to wait and see.